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Red Flags to Watch for While Viewing Rental Properties

Viewing rental properties is a crucial step in the moving process. After all, you wouldn’t buy a car without test-driving it first, right? Well, the same goes for rental properties. While you may get a good idea of what the property is like from the description and listing photos, it’s still crucial to schedule an in-person tour. Today, we’ll go over the importance of touring rentals, what to look for, and what red flags to avoid in a rental property. 


Contents of This Article: 

When to Tour a Rental Property

If you’re looking to move to a new city, state, or local area, you’ll likely start with a simple Google search for nearby rental properties. If you’re unsure of where you want to live, come up with a list of prospective areas and properties that meet your needs. 

Before scheduling property tours, clearly understand your requirements, preferences, and budget. This can help you narrow your options and make the most of your visit. Then, when you’re ready to view a property, contact your prospective landlord or Washington DC property manager to set up an in-person tour. 

When it comes to scheduling a tour, make sure it’s during daylight hours. This allows you to see the property clearly and better understand its condition and surroundings. Additionally, try to plan your tours well in advance, especially if you’re moving from a different location. 

Finally, consider the lease start date of the property. For instance, if the property is available for occupancy immediately and fits your timeline, you’ll want to tour it sooner rather than later. However, while you may be eager to move, it’s important not to rush the touring process. Next, we’ll review the importance of viewing rental properties in person and what to look for during your tour. 

Importance of Viewing Rental Properties In-Person

When you’re interested in a rental property, you may feel eager to move in immediately without touring it first. After all, technology now allows us to see 3D virtual tours and high-quality walkthroughs of properties that give a really solid idea of the space. However, the pictures in the rental listing aren’t enough to help you decide. After all, it’s hard to get a comprehensive view of the rental without actually seeing it in person. 


One of the main reasons it’s important to view rental properties in person is to get an accurate assessment of the place. While photos and online descriptions can be thorough, they do not always accurately represent the property. You wouldn’t want to sign a lease for a seemingly beautiful property only to get there and it looks nothing like the pictures. 

Additionally, by visiting the property, renters can identify any potential maintenance or repair issues that might not be obvious in photos. It also allows you to talk with the property manager or landlord to determine who’s responsible for what and ensures the rental meets your standards. 

Finally, an in-person property tour allows renters to evaluate the neighborhood and nearby amenities. That way, you can determine how close you’ll be to schools, public transportation, grocery stores, and more. Additionally, you can experience factors like street noise, neighbors, and overall ambiance, which can significantly impact your daily life. 

What to Look For While Viewing Rental Properties

When viewing rental properties, paying close attention to various aspects is important to ensure that the property meets your needs and preferences. You likely already have some expectations about where you want to live. So, once you find a property you like online, here are some things to look for while viewing the property in person. 

  • Exterior of the Property
  • Interior of the Property
  • Lease Terms

Exterior of the Property

The first thing you’ll see when viewing a rental property is the exterior–and you don’t want to overlook it. So, assess the property’s exterior appearance, landscaping, and overall curb appeal. Also, check for signs of wear and tear, like cracked siding or damaged roofing. 

Next, look at the windows and doors to ensure they’re in good condition, open and close properly, and have functioning locks. Finally, observe the safety and security of the property, like the lighting, security features, and overall sense of safety. 

Interior of the Property

You’ll likely spend most of your time looking around the inside of the property. Since there’s so much to evaluate and observe, knowing exactly what to look for throughout your tour is important. For instance, paying attention to the property’s layout, room sizes, and storage space is important. This can help you determine whether the space is large enough to fit your belongings and how the property will suit your lifestyle and needs. 

Next, check the condition and functionality of appliances like the refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, washer, and dryer. Consider asking to turn on the faucets, showers, and flush toilets to ensure adequate water pressure and drainage. If you can, look for leaks or drips during this process. 

Additional things to look for during your property tour include the lighting in each room, the condition of the floors and ceilings, and potential wall damage. You may also want to check the number and location of electrical outlets to ensure they’re sufficient for your needs. 

While there’s a lot to consider, you don’t want to overlook these important aspects of a rental property tour. As such, it may be helpful to create a checklist beforehand so you don’t forget what to look for while you’re there.

Lease Terms

While you’re touring the property with your potential landlord or property manager, it’s a good time to clear up any questions. For instance, clarify the lease terms, including the rent amount, security deposit, lease duration, and any restrictions. Additionally, if you have pets, ask about the property’s pet policy and any associated fees that may come up. 

Now’s a good time to also inquire about how maintenance requests work and whether a renter’s insurance is required or recommended. Overall, the more questions you ask about the property, the better idea you’ll have of what it’s like to live there. 


5 Red Flags to Avoid During a Property Tour

While touring rental properties may be exciting, it’s important not to overlook anything while you’re there. Going for one quick property tour when you’re eager to move can cause you to brush off some major red flags within the home. That said, here are five significant red flags to avoid during a rental property tour. 

  1. Poor Maintenance or Signs of Neglect
  2. Safety or Security Concerns
  3. Pest Infestations
  4. Unresponsive Landlord or Property Manager
  5. Misleading Photos

Poor Maintenance or Signs of Neglect

During your property tour, if you notice things like peeling paint, cracked windows, leaky faucets, or floors that are stained or scratched, it’s a sign of poor rental maintenance. Unfortunately, these flaws within the property can cause issues for you while you live there. For instance, not only are these issues unappealing to look at, but things like leaky faucets or pipes can cause larger issues, like mold growth. 

So, before you rent a place, it’s crucial to take a closer look to ensure the property is well taken care of. That way, you can avoid issues resulting from a lack of maintenance from before you moved in. 

Safety or Security Concerns

Ensuring your safety and security is incredibly important, especially regarding where you live. So, if you notice broken locks, a poorly lit porch or sidewalks, or smoke detectors that don’t function, you’ll want to think again about that property. These are signs that your landlord or property manager might not take your safety seriously. 

Ultimately, if you’re looking at a property that doesn’t deal with these types of worries, it’s a big warning that the rental might not be right for you. Sure, you can bring up your concerns with your landlord or property manager, but if they don’t fix it, you may want to move on. After all, it’s important to choose a place where you always feel safe and secure. 

Pest Infestations

If you notice pests like mice, bugs, or cockroaches during your property tour, it’s a serious issue that should not be ignored. After all, if the property attracts these types of critters, it’s a big sign that the place isn’t very clean or well taken care of. 

Not only are pests unpleasant to have around, but they can also carry diseases that could make you sick. So, if you see pests in a place you’re considering living in, think again. You’ll want to find a clean, pest-free home that ensures your health and well-being. 

Unresponsive Landlord or Property Manager

When you’re going for a tour of a rental property, pay attention to how the landlord or property manager behaves. The last thing you want is to end up dealing with a bad landlord throughout your tenancy. 


If they seem unresponsive, unprofessional, or don’t take your questions or concerns seriously, it might signal that communication might be sparse while you’re living there. 

After all, a good landlord or property manager is someone who listens carefully to what you’re saying, answers your questions, and shows that they value you as a tenant. So, if they’re dismissive or don’t seem interested, it could lead to frustration down the line if you encounter issues during your stay. 

Misleading Photos

When you’re looking at rental properties online and come across photos that catch your eye, be cautious if the property doesn’t live up to its image or description. If you arrive for a tour and notice that the property looks significantly different from the images or if promised amenities are nowhere to be found, it’s a major warning sign. After all, it could mean that the landlord is dishonest and could be trying to trick you into renting the property. So, it’s important to be careful and ask questions if things don’t match up before deciding to rent from them. 

Tour Your Next Rental With BMG

If you’re looking to move from one place to another, knowing what to look for while viewing rental properties is important. Avoid rentals with poor maintenance or neglect, safety concerns, pest infestations, and misleading photos. Also, it’s important to work with responsive landlords and property managers who listen to your concerns.

Need More Advice? contact us today!

Bay Property Management Group offers comprehensive rental management services throughout Baltimore, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia, and Washington, DC. So, if you’re looking for a new rental property or you’re an owner looking for someone to manage your properties, look no further. We offer full-service management, including tenant screening, maintenance, inspections, and more. Contact our team of industry professionals today to learn more about how we can help.